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10 Killer Cooking / Kitchen Hacks

10 Killer Cooking / Kitchen Hacks

    I love to cook. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a tasty home-cooked meal that I have prepared and made myself. It’s satisfying knowing that my effort has paid off and I have produced something that I can be proud to share.

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    However, if you’re a novice, it can take time to learn some of the tricks and hacks that can improve your cooking skills or speed up your kitchen prowess.

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    Then there is the cleaning up afterwards — a sink full of dishes that gets in the way whilst you are cooking that no one wants to deal with.

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    Here are a few tips I’ve learned to improve your kitchen capabilities:

    1. Plan what you need to do. Whatever takes the longest, do first. Warming up an oven, boiling up some water. Put those on first. It takes about 10 mins for an oven to heat up to the right temperature, and about 5 minutes for the water to boil where its constantly bubbling. Get that going first before you need to prep the food.
    2. Defrost meats in advance. If you plan what you are going to eat you can preserve the quality of meat. Leaving it on a counter top to defrost will increase bacteria levels, nuking it in the microwave will leave you with a cooked outside and frozen middle. Put it in the fridge for 2 days in advance. If you’re in a hurry, defrost in water.
    3. To open an impossible-to-open jar lid,  hold the jar upside down and put it over the cooker flame for a couple of seconds. Alternatively if you are going to use the whole jar, stab the lid with a sharp knife to break the vacuum.
    4. Don’t have a steamer? Put your vegetables into a colander and put it into a pan with boiling water that fits. Make sure the colander doesn’t reach the water and then cover it with a lid. The lid may not fit perfectly, but it does the job.
    5. Get more juice out of lemons and oranges by warming them up. You can do this in your hand or in some warm water.
    6. Wash while you cook. This removes wasted waiting time and keeps you on top of the cleaning. When you put some meat in the pan and need to turn it over in a couple of minutes, fill the sink with water and start washing up. After you’ve washed a couple of items, it’s time to turn the mean. You can use this as a method to time your cooking.
    7. Shell boiled eggs with ease. You can do so by breaking a small hole at both ends and blowing into one end.
    8. Recipes are guidelines, they do not need to be followed to the letter. Love ginger?  Put some in.
    9. Avoiding wheat but need to make a crispy coating without using bread? Oats do a great job. Put them into a food mixer and you have a coating that can be applied to almost anything.
    10. Short on time and need to make a roast? Chop it up into smaller pieces. Your cooking time will be vastly reduced.

    These are just some of the hacks I use when cooking. Do you have any to share?

    (Photo credit: Chef Woman via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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